Self-Driving Truck Completes First Cross-Country Freight Run in Three Days
Cupertino, CA – A California-based self-driving trucking technology company says it has completed the first coast-to-coast commercial freight run with an autonomous truck.
On Tuesday, autonomous technology provider, Plus.ai, announced one of its level-four (L4) autonomous trucks recently completed a hub-to-hub trip spanning 2,800 miles from Tulare, CA to Quakertown, PA.
Plus.ai says its autonomous truck, which was pulling a refrigerated trailer loaded with 40,000 pounds of Land O’Lakes butter, encountered a wide-range of weather and road conditions, as well as traffic conditions.
“The Plus.ai autonomous truck safely navigated driving day and night through the expansive plains of Kansas, winding roads of the Rockies, road construction, multi-mile tunnels, over 11,000 feet elevation, and was greeted with rainy and snowy roads heading east, all in under three days,” the company said in a statement.
“This cross-country freight run with Land O’Lakes shows the safety, efficiency and maturity of our autonomous trucks, which are already delivering freight for other partners several days a week,” said Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder of Plus.ai.
This trip marks the first L4 U.S. cross-country commercial pilot hauling a fully-loaded refrigerated trailer of perishable cargo, according to Plus.ai.
While taking pride in the historic-nature of his company’s achievement, Kerrigan says such a cross-country trip will soon be a common occurrence.
“Continued advances in our autonomous trucks will make it possible for these quick cross-country runs to be the norm in the future,” he predicted.
Yone Dewberry, Land O’Lakes’ Chief Supply Chain Officer, said the company was “thrilled” to work with Plus.ai and expects autonomous-equipped trucks to “completely reshape commercial shipping.”
According to Plus.ai, the truck was equipped with Plus.ai’s advanced autonomous driving system which utilizes multimodal sensor fusion, deep learning visual algorithms, and simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) technologies.
Further, the company says the vehicle “drove primarily in autonomous mode through the 2,800 miles across Interstate 15 and Interstate 70, passing through varied terrains and weather conditions.”
However, a safety driver was onboard at all times to monitor and assume control if needed, and a safety engineer was present to monitor system operations, Plus.ai noted.
Kerrigan called the trip an “important milestone” in proving the autonomous technology could “safely handle a wide range of weather and road conditions.”
In October, Plus.ai announced a partnership with with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to test its self-driving technology in harsh winter conditions.
The testing is being conducted on MnDOT’s MnROAD cold-weather pavement testing facility with the purpose of preparing its autonomous technology to “drive in all climates, including the toughest winter road conditions that Minnesota experiences,” Kerrigan commented at the time.
Of the company’s latest feat, Kerrigan remarked, “This is a powerful demonstration of the safety and efficiency that can be achieved when autonomous trucks become commercially available.”
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